Baxter, Tenn.—The vision of Portobello America to have a full-service, ultra-modern production facility in the U.S. is set to become a reality in April.
“We are slated to be operational in April of this year,” said James “Jed” Durbin, the company’s vice president of manufacturing and outsourcing. “The majority of our new, state-of-the-art equipment has been installed. Other key machinery continues to be arriving weekly and is installed immediately after it lands. We are so very close.”
Durbin explained that once the first kiln is fully operational, the next phase will be the production of small-format floor and wall tile, which should be ready by late summer. “From there, a second kiln will be operational later on in the year,” he added. “The energy is at the highest levels throughout PBA, as all of everyone’s hard work is finally coming together with an end-result within an ever-so-close reach.”
More than 100 new employees have already been hired, and PBA’s strong training programs are currently being conducted for workers for the factory, administrative operations, quality control, maintenance and more. Local mayors and other community leaders have stopped by on numerous occasions, having expressed excitement in the progression of the factory and, of course, what it means to their local economy.
The new facility, located here, will not only be a major sustainable manufacturing factory, it will also be the new home of Portobello America’s North American offices. Baxter is located in Putnam County, considered a national hub regarding the manufacture of porcelain tile due to the local obtainability of natural clay and feldspar supplies. The new factory’s personnel plan is expected to ultimately generate at least 230 local jobs.
“Our new plant will be fully automated with the most modern technology.,” Durbin said. “This will include laser-guided systems, automated packaging and palleting, robots that move materials from one area of the plant to another… and much, much more. Obviously, we’ve got much to accomplish before our startup—and we’re getting it done!”
Portobello America is planning a spectacular grand opening event slated for late this summer.